Apartment hunting in Chicago? Any tips?

I’m going to Chicago in a few weeks to apartment hunt, and I would like to arrive prepared. I’ve heard there are some pretty great apartment finders in the area, but it’s pretty hard to find much info with google.

I’m looking for a 2 bedroom apartment, ~$1000/mo. near the red or blue line. Is this a reasonable goal? There are a couple of neighborhoods I had in mind, but what do you dopers recommend?

The one thing about Chicago is many and I mean MANY great apartments aren’t advertised. You get them by walking around and looking at signs.

With apartment finders service watch out for misleads. For instance they’ll call Humboldt Park “West Bucktown.” Also decling areas. I live in Logan Square, and it’s going down fast. This year we’ve had drive bys, murders right on Kedzie and Fullerton, and the drug dealers are back. It’s change a LOT in the last six months.

Two Bed room for $1000.00, not near the Red Line, unless you’re willing to try marginal neighborhoods or walk a bit to the Red Line. You might be able to do that on the Blue Line as you go towards O’Hare

The other thing about Chicago is the neighborhoods, is they are close. You can actually have a nice neighborhood with no issues and two blocks over it’s bad, full of gangs and graffiti.

The best way is to take your cell phone and walk around in a nice area

I lived in a 2-2 for $1100 a month in 2003 (I know, but it might be helpful.) in Lakeview, which I liked a lot. We were right off Sheridan, so a mile from the Red Line (a quick walk), but a quarter block from sixty-eleven buses going downtown.

I used an apartment locator first, and was not happy. My roomie and I found our place by walking up and down a few streets and calling the numbers on the for rent signs.

Awesome, thanks for the advice! Because of my situation, I’ll have to work fast. Are there any neighborhoods in particular you guys would recommend checking out? How quickly did you find some good “hits” walking around?

I haven’t done the walking around thing, but did use the Reader online for my last two apartments. The Reader posts the new listings at 7pm on Wednesdays, I viewed the apartments on Thursday and signed the leases the same day. Many apartments go the same way, which means by the time people use the print ads that come out Thursday afternoon, the good apartments are already gone!

The walking-around thing would be my next choice, though. Choose your top 3 neighborhoods and start there. Another piece of advice is to visit the area you’re thinking of at night. Things can really change at night, and if you still like the area (and feel safe) then it’s a good bet.

Good luck!

There were several for rent opportunities on the two-three city blocks we walked. We looked at two and signed for one on the same day.

Don’t bother with apartment finder services. They only typically represent the units that can’t be rented on their own merits.

May 1 and Oct 1 are the big “move days” in Chicago when lots of units come on the market, but you should be able to find something without too much difficulty. With the housing market decline in full swing, the rental market has picked up. Therefore, don’t hesitate if you find something you like, there’s a good chance you may miss out if you wait a few days to think about it.

I would start with Craig’s List and the reader. Both are free and have search capabilities.

Lincoln Park and Lakeview are probably out of your price range unless it’s a real dump. Look a little west or north- St Bens, Lincoln Square, Roscoe Village. Ukranian Village could work too.

Uptown and perhaps Rogers Park should be in that range for a 2BR. At that price you’ll have to decide between location and amenities, but I don’t think you’ll die of sticker shock. If the 2nd bedroom is for a den, you might want to also look at large 1BRs – you can find some that are as big as 2BR but just don’t have the layout.

I would just hit craigslist and the Reader. If you’re in town for more than one day you can always use the finder service and search the classifieds. Your only obligation to the finder service is to go through them if you rent an apartment they show you. If you find your own place just thank them and let them go.

This is rather obvious, but really think about whether you need that second bedroom. Nicer neighborhoods open up in that price range for 1 bedrooms or large studios. There are lots of nice hotels for guests to stay in.

One tip about neighborhoods–Chicago has these handy flashing blue lights on lampposts to alert you that you aren’t in the best part of town (they’re actually cameras that detect gunshots and automatically adjust the camera accordingly).

Sorry to slightly off topic (although since neighborhoods are under discussion, it’s not too far off), but I couldn’t disagree more with this assessment.

Of course, there are murders every year, in almost every neighborhood. Logan Square has some rough little pockets, but for the most part it’s a great neighborhood. I can’t find the statistics to back me up right now, but I do follow the CAPS meetings in my beat as well as the news in the neighborhood, and from where I stand, crime is down and obviously businesses are moving in like crazy. The biggest problem in the neighborhood seems to be arguments over whether the rapid gentrification is a good thing or bad thing.

I live in the SE end of the neighborhood, fwiw. My understanding is the N and NW parts still have more crime.

Anyway, yes you’ll be able to find a 2 bedroom for $1000 bucks somewhere along the red or blue line, probably farther from downtown rather than closer.

I somewhat disagree with the statement that the only properties that “apartment finder” type people list are the ones that can’t stand on their own. I know several people who rent their properties through those places, and it’s for convenience, not due to the quality of the property. They want someone to take care of the showings and screenings and such.

My advice is to jump on a short term lease or sublease for three or four months so that you can get a feel for the various neighborhoods and have some time to find someplace you want to stay long term. It would suck to sign a lease in, say, Uptown and find out that you really want to hang on in the Wicker Park bar scene.

That’s what I wish I had done when I first moved to Chicago. There’s no reason your first stop in the city should be anything more than a temporary base from which to feel out various neighborhoods and then seek out a good deal in the place you want to be.

I’ve lived in Chicago for more than 12 years. Started in the Gold Coast then up to Lakeview and now I have a townhome in Lincoln Park. Highly reccomend Lakeview. Consider somewhere in the NW area by the Brown line. Places near the Paulina EL stop are resonable enough. It’s a great city. I rent out a coupel of places that I own (all rented at the moment, sorry) but feel free to PM me if you need some additional advice.

You should be able to find a two bedroom for around $1000/mo without too much trouble in the city. Other than the neighborhoods mentioned here, check out Andersonville, Ravenswood, Roscoe Village, Ukrainian Village, and Pilsen. From looking around, it seems that two bedrooms here run in the $800-$1500 range.

What are you looking for in a neighborhood?
Do you know where you will be working?
Will you or your frequent visitors own a car?
How do you feel about diversity? Frankly, we have it all.

Your pricepoint is ok, I think.

These kinds of questions always seem to fall somewhere between a General Question and soliciting informed opinions. Since it’s had a day in GQ, lets go over to IMHO.

samclem GQ moderator

He needs it.

This dude is my future roommate.